One word. WOW. What an experience. My Memorial Day weekend started on Friday with going to DePaul University in Lincoln Park to check-in for Taizé.
Friday, after lunch, I headed down to DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus for the start of what was going to be an exciting weekend. The area churches had been hyping this event for a few months and were asking families in the area to take in a traveler or 2 or 3. My parents and I took in one girl, Meagan, from Minneapolis. For those who wished, we had choir practice at 5 for 2 hours to practice the songs and get the people together, including our cantors. Brother Jean-Marie was the main cantor, starting off most of the songs.
If any of you are thinking, wait. That’s a girl’s name. Nope. It’s pronounced John Marie. Before I get any further, Taizé is a small community in France. If you ever get to France, I HIGHLY recommend you go! They are very welcoming there.
Anyway, we had 6 of the Taizé brothers in Chicago for the weekend. One of them had been here since February to help kick start preparations and announcing it. The other 5 started to trickle into the United States as the event got closer and were traveling to spread word.
Friday evening, after 2 hours of choir practice and an hour break for dinner, we celebrated our first Evening Prayer as a community in the Sullivan Athletic Center. The 6 brothers were on the center area in the picture below where the main kneelers are. If you Google Taizé brothers, you would be able to see how they use those for kneeling. Looks uncomfortable, but they aren’t. We sang 10 songs during each of the prayers. (Evening on Friday; morning, midday and evening on Saturday, evening on Sunday; and morning and midday on Monday.) The songs were mostly songs that I had sang before during Taizé service at Church of our Savior in Lincoln Park and during a normal mass at All Saints’ in Ravenswood.
Saturday was our first full day of the Pilgrimage. Started with morning prayer at 9, followed by reflections and then we met with our small groups, which were scattered around Lincoln Park. Most of the groups met on DePaul’s campus. My group met at Little Sisters of the Poor, which is at Belden and Lakewood. After that, we had another prayer service, and followed by lunch, which was a sandwich, apple, cookies, chips and a drink (soda or water). After lunch, we had some free time then workshops. I attended “Keeping Silence in a Busy Life, which was held downtown near Washington and Dearborn. That was followed by dinner and our evening prayer.
Sunday, my parents, Meagan, and I piled into my car and we headed to St. Vincent DePaul Roman Catholic Church for mass. (St. Vincent’s was one of the hosting churches for people coming in to find a host family through.) They recognized the Taizé participants at the end of mass by having us stand up to be welcomed and hosted a picnic style lunch outside after mass.
For anyone trying to figure out the Catholic connection, my mom was born and raised in the Catholic faith, while my dad was raised Episcopal. My brothers and I were raised in both faiths. They had originally heard about Taizé from St. Josaphat’s, which is near Southport and Webster, but they only had two families sign up to host, hence going to St. Vincent’s Sunday.)
After Mass, Meagan and I headed back to DePaul (we were already there pretty much) and hung out in the student center during our free time. We had another workshop at 2:30 about singing in the style of Taizé, which ran into our second reflection. After the reflection, I had to slip out and head to work, missing evening prayer and dinner.
Today concluded with morning prayer, followed by reflection, regional meetings, and our final prayer service, before saying our good-byes, getting lunch to go and going our separate ways.
This was a fun weekend. A huge thanks to DePaul security, campus police and sports teams for allowing us to cross safely across Sheffield and overtaking their gym for the better part of a week (most of it was for set-up and this whole weekend for prayers and all)